Louth kicked the last eight points of the game to storm to a rare five-point Leinster championship victory over a valiant Wexford side in Innovate Wexford Park.
Jonathon Bealin had the underdogs perfectly poised 1-14 to 14 ahead with ten minutes remaining, but Louth composed themselves to advance to a quarter final date with Dublin.
Up until that point, it looked like a shock was on the cards, a tale of two penalties really as Louth missed theirs and Kevin O’Grady scored Wexford’s midway through the second half.
However, Paul McLoughlin’s side couldn’t hold onto that ascendancy and Louth overpowered them down the stretch.
Louth’s last victory over Wexford in the championship came in 1980 and that 39-year wait looked set to continue when Ben Brosnan gave the home side the perfect start. The talisman swerved over a beautiful point from long range.
After the initial championship frenzy, the tempo then dipped and Louth worked themselves back into the game, but a combination of wastefulness from Louth and doggedness from Wexford saw the sides level on five occasions in the first half.
Jim McEneaney saw his penalty saved by debutant Matt Doyle in the Wexford goal while Declan Byrne also spurned a goal chance in that dominant Louth period. Wexford counter attacked excellently at times and Glen Malone’s point from wingback illustrated this.
Three impressive James Califf scores did give Louth the lead for the first time on the 23rd minute, only for Brosnan to level immediately with his third of the afternoon.
Jonathon Bealin then burst into the game, the fourth highest scorer in the National League opened up a two gap with a brace only for Sam Mulroy to pull one back for the visitors in the run into half time to make it 7-6.
Declan Byrne shot Louth out of the traps early in the second period with a sparkling brace, yet it was Wexford who roared into the game Malone again in transition and Bealin to the fore. His second of the half was a superb solo effort with a composed punched finish.
Califf landed his fifth point before being replaced and Byrne his third, levelled the game 11 a piece before O’Grady’s excellently taken penalty.
Bealin kept the score board ticking over and Louth at that stage, in desperate search of scores looked to be running out of ideas.
The introduction of Ryan Burns provided the spark, Louth got it down to one point game with Burns landing four points from the bench.
Once Andy McDonnell levelled the game, that provided the confidence required to power on. With a visible sigh of relief, power on they did.
Louth wing-forward Ciaran Downey fired over, another replacement William Woods and midfielder Tommy Durnin also got in on the act.
Burns sealed the game and his sparkling cameo with a 45’ to complete the dramatic eight point swing for Wayne Kierans in his first match as Louth manger.
Wexford: Matt Doyle; Michael Furlong, Martin O’Connor (0-01), Conor Carty; Glen Malone (0-02), Brian Malone, Eoin Porter; Daithí Waters, Niall Hughes; Eoghan Nolan, Barry O’Connor, Conor Devitt (0-01); Kevin O’Grady (1-00, 1-00pen), Ben Brosnan (0-03), Jonathon Bealin (0-07, 0-04f).
Subs: Gavin Sheehan for C Carty (BC 9), Tiarnan Rossiter for Hughes (40), Robert Frayne for Nolan (64), John Tubritt for Devitt (67), James Cash for Porter (68)
Louth: Fergal Sheekey; Fergal Donohoe, Emmet Carolan, James Craven; Anthony Williams, Bevan Duffy, John Clutterbuck; Tommy Durnin (0-01), James Califf (0-05 , 0-02f); Jim McEneaney (0-01), Ciaran Downey (0-01), Conall McKeever (0-01); Andy McDonnell (0-02), Sam Mulroy (0-3,3f), Declan Byrne (0-03).
Subs: Dan Corcoran for A Williams (BS 5), Conor Early for Califf (51), Eoghan Duffy for Clutterbuck (57), Ryan Burns (0-04, 0-0145) for Mulroy (57), R Holcroft for McEneaney (62), D Corcoran for Donohoe (64), William Woods (0-01) for Byrne (67),
Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)